Two years ago, we wrote about a possible First Amendment challenge involving Donald Trump’s practice of blocking certain Twitter users from his @realDonaldTrump account. While it was unclear at the time of our post whether the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University—an organization that uses strategic litigation to preserve the freedoms of speech and the press—would pursue further action, the Knight Institute filed a complaint a few days later in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Trump, then-White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Daniel Scavino, the White House Director of Social Media and Assistant to the President. On July 9, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a decision regarding this First Amendment issue.
Can you violate the First Amendment by blocking people from your Twitter account? According to the Knight First Amendment Institute, it’s possible if that account is @realDonaldTrump.
As we have mentioned before, Donald Trump’s Twitter habit has been a large part of his public persona in recent years. Unsurprisingly, his Twitter usage has continued to play a role in his presidency, at times even shaping the news cycle. In fact, the President’s tweets have garnered the attention of everyone from the writers at SNL to world leaders. The tweets even received a satirical “popup” library to commemorate Trump’s 140-character musings.